Throughout the #MeToo movement, one group of alleged sex monsters have managed to totally avoid facing any consequences: men who had already been accused long before Weinstein’s downfall.
Right now, Shaun White is at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, cementing his legacy.
But, as we look at the allegations, fans of winter sports should ask themselves: does Shaun White really deserve their support?
Before we talk about the allegations against Shaun White, let’s talk about his better-known public misbehavior.
Several years ago — back in 2012, when people thought that the world was going to end but didn’t realize that it would be long, drawn out, and presided over by a malevolent orange — Shaun White was arrested for vandalism and public intoxication.
Allegedly reeking of alcohol, Shaun White pulled a fire alarm in his hotel, prompting the building’s evacuation.
He then apparently grappled a bit with someone who tried to stop him from fleeing the scene, and ended up being arrested.
Hey, we’re not judging anybody for drinking — but pulling a fire alarm can be dangerous or even lethal (if there’s a panic or if resources are diverted from a real fire). And, obviously, belligerence and alleged violence aren’t okay, either.
Unfortunately, there are more serious accusations against Shaun White.
In August of 2016, Lena Zawaideh — the drummer in Shaun White’s band, Bad Things, alleged in court documents that Shaun White had sexually harassed her.
Among the complaints was the allegation that Shaun had sent graphic images of a sexually explicit nature to her.
Shaun would later admit to having sent the messages.
In Feburary of 2017, Shaun’s team asked the court to compel Lena Zawaideh to undergo a psychological evaluation — we can’t speak to his team’s motives, but such orders are sometimes used as fishing expeditions or as an intimidation tactic.
Three months after the demand for an evaluation, however, Shaun White and his team agreed to pay Lena Dawaideh an undisclosed settlement.
The accusations include White sending her photos of erect penises, forcing her to watch sexually disturbing videos (including one which apparently sexualized human excrement!!), and making explicit comments about her relationship with her boyfriend.
She also describes Shaun White sticking his hand down his pants and walking over to her and pressing his hand into her face in an attempt to force her to smell his genitals by proxy.
Furthermore, she alleges that he used his position as the band’s “money guy” to make her change her look, including wearing her hair how he wanted it, not wearing red lipstick, and dressing in more revealing and provocative outfits.
They were in a band, but a lot of this sounds like workplace sexual harassment.
On Wednesday afternoon, Shaun White was interviewed at an Olympic Committee news conference.
Not only were no female reporters called on to ask questions, but when asked about the allegations against him, Shaun replied:
“Honestly, I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip.”
That’s … incredibly dismissive.
“I am who I am, and I’m proud of who I am and my friends love me and vouch for me and I think that stands on its own.”
Now, at least, Shaun White has apologized. Well, he’s apologized for being dismissive.
Speaking to Today’s Savannah Guthrie, Shaun White said:
“I’m truly sorry that I chose the word gossip. It was a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today. I’m just truly sorry. I was so overwhelmed with just wanting to talk about how amazing today was and share my experience.”
He added that he’s proud of who he is today.
Some wonder if Shaun White is accustomed to being able to dismiss and charm his way out of questions like that, and if the cultural impact of #MeToo is making serious allegations of bad behavior harder for people to ignore.
Of course, Shaun White was also excoriated by Twitter for dragging an American flag on the ground. For an Olympic champion, he’s having a relatively bad day.